Now that you know why menu planning will help save your budget and save your sanity, it’s time to put it into action.
There is no right or wrong way to plan a menu – A very important point to remember. Just because neighbour “Jane” does it a certain way does not mean her system will work for you. Maybe sitting down and planning a month’s worth of meals seems to work best for you. Or maybe you’re like me and only want to plan dinners for a week. But if planning breakfast, lunch and dinner is what keeps your week running smoothly, do that! There are no rules to menu planning and you will see a difference in your grocery bill once you start doing what works for you.
Pick a day to sit down and plan- And stick with it! I set aside about half an hour on Sunday evenings to plan my menu. All the new grocery store flyers are out by then and my Sunday’s are more relaxed then other days. This works for me. Maybe Tuesday mornings would work better for you. Just find a day that you can consistently set aside for menu planning. This way, you’ll be less tempted to wing it throughout the week. Thus, adding unnecessary stress and most likely leading you to spend more; either on take-out or an ill thought out grocery shopping trip.
Plan more intensive meals for days when you have more time – Just as the title says, plan to make the meals with the most prep work or number of courses for the days when you aren’t rushed. Obviously, the benefit is not having to do a lot of prep work and cooking after a long day when everyone is clamouring for dinner.
Keep a copy of every menu plan – For days when you’re feeling uninspired, you’ll be able to easily look back and see what you ate a year earlier or even 6 months earlier to spur yourself on. There have been some weeks when I’ve been feeling tired or busy so I just pick an old menu of ours that corresponds to the current season we’re in. Works for us because we likely haven’t eaten those meals in quite some time so it doesn’t feel repetitive.
A note on spontaneity – I’ve heard many complain about the loss of spontaneity with a menu plan. For me personally, I love having the guideline of a menu but I don’t get caught up on eating a meal I planned for Monday if I don’t feel like eating it that day. I’ll simply move it to another day and make a different meal I have planned that sounds more appealing. Or sometimes I’ll scrap it completely and pull something else out since I like to have the ingredients for simple meals on hand at all times.
Next Wednesday, I’ll be continuing with part two of Tips for Successful Menu Planning! What works for you when it comes to menu planning?